There are approximately 15 million Americans, including 6 million children, who have a potentially life-threatening food allergy. The prevalence of this disease has increased over the last three decades, in both the United States and other developed countries. There are no cures or effective prevention or treatment strategies for food allergy. Moreover, little is known about the factors that account for the rising prevalence and severity of these diseases in recent years. Both genetic and environmental factors likely contribute to the development of food allergy, but the complex interaction between these variables has frustrated efforts to elucidate pathogenesis and develop mechanism-targeted therapies. Children with food allergy are 2 to 4 times more likely to be diagnosed with asthma or other allergic conditions than children without food allergy, and food allergy may also be an important trigger for atopic dermatitis and eosinophilic esophagitis. The Laboratory of Allergic Diseases within the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has a longstanding interest in the genetics and pathogenesis of allergic inflammatory disorders, and with the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, it provides the ideal environment for the proposed translational studies. In this study, we will: (1) investigate the key genetic, cellular, immunologic, and biochemical pathways that lead to the development of food allergy, and (2) identify biomarkers that predict the clinical course and natural history of patients with food allergy.
Subjects eligible for enrollment in this study include children and adults with food allergy and patients with a known/suspected genetic or congenital disorder potentially associated with these phenotypes. Unaffected relatives (children and adults) of an enrolled subject and healthy volunteers (children and adults) will also be eligible for enrollment as controls. Most participants will be followed for 2 years, although participants with an identified genetic or congenital disorder and a subset of participants with food allergy may be followed until this study ends (up to 12 years).
Data obtained from analysis of blood, skin, saliva, stool, gastrointestinal biopsies, and other specimens will be used to explore the immunologic, biochemical, microbial, and genetic basis of food allergy. Results of research studies will be correlated with the scope and severity of their clinical phenotype, their response to treatment, and the natural history of their allergic disease(s).
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